Over 2000 years ago, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates proclaimed, “All disease begins in the gut”. Centuries and centuries later, modern science has backed up his claims.
Here are the important things your gut and the bacteria in your gut does:
This is extremely important in this increasingly toxic world. The Centers for Disease Control had stated that the environment is 100 times more toxic than in our grandparents’ time. Pollutants like synthetic pesticides, herbicides, plasticizers in meat and food packaging, and heavy metals are in our food, water, and air. They threaten your body with damage to DNA, cells, and tissues and cripple the functioning of your cells.
Your liver is responsible for processing toxins, which it then sends to your gallbladder and then into your intestines for elimination. So in order to get those toxins out, you have to poop!
Unfortunately, many people have unhealthy guts from eating unhealthy food, being constipated, and not feeding their healthy gut bacteria. These bacteria are extremely important for the health of your gut and whole body - there are even more bacteria in your gut than there are cells of your own body.
Antibiotics can also kill the good bacteria in your gut and set your colon up for the growth of unhealthy bacteria or yeast like candida.
If your gut microflora are not healthy, then the health of the rest of your body will suffer - including your immune system and mood. If you have an inflamed gut, you won’t absorb nutrients as efficiently. And if you have a stagnant, constipated gut, you will not be eliminating toxins efficiently.
Various classes of pharmaceutical laxatives are often used by mainstream medicine to treat constipation. The problem is, these laxatives come with a host of side effects. Nausea, bloating, gastrointestinal pain, increased thirst, diarrhea, and even electrolyte imbalance can result from their usage. Also, these aren’t a permanent fix for creating a healthy gut ecosystem.
Luckily, nutritional options are aplenty for those who want to cleanse and nourish the gut. And there are plenty of foods that do just that. Following is a list and descriptions of foods that help cleanse and nourish your digestive system.
Algae is not on the top of many people's dietary wish list - most would just think of it as pond scum or just plain gross. Our little secret: it's really not that bad. Also, most people would never think of it as a food. But it can be. After all, humans do eat seaweed - so green things that grow underwater can't all be bad.
Chlorella is a type of single-celled micro-algae that is packed full of nutrients. It contains lots of protein - about 50% of the algae is protein. In terms of micronutrients, chlorella contains such a diverse array of vitamins and minerals that some vegans consider it their functional multi-vitamin (1).
In the past decade, research has uncovered many benefits to the cardiovascular system and other facets of health, but chlorella is important to our discussion of colon cleansing largely because of its amazing colon-detoxifying abilities.
When left in water with toxic heavy metals, chlorella absorbs 50% of chromium and 77% of lead after 12 days (2). In women, chlorella consumption lowers levels of toxic, hormone disrupting dioxins in breastmilk, indicating that chlorella might absorb dioxins and help remove them from the body(4).
An apple a day is full of fiber. Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that has been shown to improve bowel movements. For instance, pectin can add bulk to stools and aid in the absorption of water in stool (5). Both of these characteristics make it easier for poop to leave the colon.
Apples contain more pectin than many other fruits like apricots, cherries and oranges.
Beans promote colon health in a variety of ways, mostly as a result of their antioxidant and fiber content. They help keep colon tissue by fighting unhealthy tissue changes like cancer.
The components responsible for navy beans’ cancer preventative effects include an array of complex sugars and antioxidants (6). The complex sugars like oligosaccharides and others create a healthier microflora (bacteria) ecosystem in the gut, which modulates colon-harming and cancer-promoting inflammation and creates a healthier pH (6). The antioxidants in navy beans like catechins, anthocyanins, and isoflavones fight inflammation and oxidative stress, which can initiate and promote cancer growth.
Navy beans contain a lot of fiber - 10 grams in just half a cup (7). This fiber helps sweep your gut and eliminate things that aren't suppose to be there.
Lentils are another legume that is great to add to one’s diet to increase the amount of antioxidants and fiber that’s ingested. Lentils come in a multitude of colors and have been traditionally used in South Asian cuisine.
Lentils can increase fecal weight, which improves transit time . And the micronutrients (antioxidants and others) and fiber in lentils are thought to be responsible for its benefits to colon health and its colon cancer-preventative effects .
Chances are that you are well familiar with oats. They’re commonly used in the west and one of their main characteristics is that they are packed with fiber. One cup has 17 grams of fiber which is about half of some daily recommendations for fiber intake.
Oat fiber has been shown to increase the number of bowel movements per day . So it follows common sense that they keep everything moving swiftly out of your guts.
Oats may also improve the cleansing action of the whole digestive system. This is because they significantly increase bile excretion . Bile is excreted into the intestines from the gallbladder but bile originates in the liver. It helps digest fats but also contains toxins processed by the liver. If bile excretion is increased, it could accelerate the removal of toxins from the liver (and help food digest better).
Broccoli affects liver health profoundly and therefore the detoxification of the digestive system (since the liver is part of the digestive system). For instance, broccoli protects liver tissue from damage like that seen in fatty liver disease and might fight liver cancer .
This cruciferous veggie also increases phase II enzymes which help the liver detoxify and prepare toxicants (like environmental pollutants) for excretion . Without the activation of phase II enzymes, phase I enzymes can actually make some toxicants more toxic and harmful l. In other words, phase II enzymes effectively finish the job of detoxification.
Cauliflower is a good food to discuss alongside broccoli. They are both cruciferous vegetables and cauliflower resembles broccoli but is white in color. A multitude of studies has confirmed that cruciferous veggies like these lower the risk of colon cancer and improve colon health .
Researchers think that the high fiber content of veggies like cauliflower helps cleanse the colon by increasing fecal bulk, transit time, and by “diluting” or sweeping carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) through your colon . Sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli and cauliflower, also induces detoxification enzymes in the colon . So cauliflower can actually help the colon cells themselves detoxify from harmful substances. Cruciferous veggies can also increase the glutathione content of cells . Glutathione is a very powerful antioxidant that your body makes to detoxify harmful substances.
This leafy green is highly nutritious and contains impressive amounts of magnesium, iron, and vitamin K. Chard is also has one of the highest chlorophyll contents in the vegetable kingdom.
Chlorophyll is very important in the cleansing of your colon because it has the ability to soak up environmental pollutants .Higher fruit and veggie consumption is correlated with lower rates of gastrointestinal cancer and researchers believe that chlorophyll is partially responsible for this benefit .
One of the important characteristics of chlorophyll is that it soaks up and inhibits the absorption of pollutants into your bloodstream and tissues. Chlorophyll, for instance, can inhibit the absorption of dioxins . Dioxins are highly toxic byproduct of industrial processes and are throughout the world’s environment and can be absorbed in the animal foods we eat like meat, dairy, and eggs.
Chlorophyll can also soak up or form complexes with other carcinogenic compounds . It does this to harmful substances called heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogens that are formed in high-temperature cooked meats.
Chlorophyll can also form complexes with carcinogenic molds that can grow on some grains and peanuts .
Spinach is also very high in chlorophyll. It can be eaten raw or cooked but there are some concerns that eating too much raw spinach can increase the risk of kidney stones because of the very high oxalate content of spinach. So the healthiest way to consume it is probably steamed, since this gets rid of some oxalates and many nutrients are preserved by this cooking method.
The chlorophyll in spinach, chard, and other veggies, along with directly cleansing pollutants, activates phase II enzymes in cells to help them detoxify more effectively . Phytochemicals in spinach cause antioxidant effects that can protect molecules in the body from oxidative damage so spinach can help protect colon tissue along with cleansing it .
Building up levels of beneficial bacteria in your gut is extremely important to good colon health and colon detoxification. There are more bacteria (or at least there are supposed to be) in your intestines than there are your own cells in your body. Think about that. So it’s safe to say that this bacteria is pretty dang important. But don’t take my word for it. Mountains of research has evidenced the importance of gut bacteria to not only gut health but even the health of your body as a whole.
Some foods contain a lot of indigestible sugars like oligosaccharides that feed good bacteria as these sugars move through the gut. These sugars or other components of food are referred to as “prebiotics” because they feed the biotics (bacteria) in your gut. Asparagus is often cited as a food that is considered a powerful prebiotic because of its oligosaccharide and inulin content . So after you eat asparagus, this veggie will glide through your guts, feeding the good guys. The fiber content will also help keep everything moving and it's possible that the glutathione content in asparagus could help detoxify the colon.
Onion is another food that is cited as a powerful prebiotic .
The bacteria that prebiotics feed plays a huge role in colon health for numerous reasons. One reason is that probiotics, perhaps surprisingly, can bind to and inhibit the absorption of toxins like heavy metals  . Probiotics have also been found to strengthen the intestinal barrier . This barrier is important because it prevents substances, especially toxins, from being absorbed into your blood, where they can cause damage and inflammation to your whole body.
Onions also activate genes in the intestines that have antioxidant effects .
There is evidence that green tea is very protective and healing for the gut. It fights inflammation and signs of inflammatory bowel disease . Researchers describe green tea as preventing “colon injury” and maintaining healthy “colonic architecture” . Green tea can reduce numerous inflammatory factors that cause the damage of colon tissue . So in considering this information, it is smart to drink a beverage that supports and protects your colon tissue as you’re trying to clean out your colon.
Green tea is also healthy for your liver - the top point of your digestive system . Data suggests that green tea might decrease the chance of liver disease and it has been shown in animals to increase the liver content of the detoxifying antioxidant glutathione . As your digestive system is cleansing, green tea may promote liver vitality.
Another food that is not only delicious but a potent prebiotic . Along with having a multitude of health benefits, garlic benefits your guts by helping to clear out pathogens like parasites and even colon cancer cells . Yes, garlic has been shown to cause apoptosis, or death, in colon cancer cells . And of course, getting nasty bugs out of your guts is not a bad idea when you're trying to cleanse.
Garlic can also raise the antioxidant capacity of the liver, helping this organ to detoxify .
Eating foods that help clean out, protect, and detoxify your gastrointestinal tract is a smart way to cleanse your colon and restart your health. But many people have been constipated for so long and have so much buildup in their guts that healthy food alone doesn’t get things moving as they should be.
This is why it can be very helpful and even necessary for many people to add nutritional supplements to your regimen to expedite your colon cleansing. This is especially true for people whose colons are very toxic and sluggish due to their past lifestyle, antibiotic use, and dysbiosis (or the growth of pathogens like parasites, candida, and bad bacteria).
An extra boost to the cleansing of your colon and the rebooting of whole-body health might be just the thing you need.